Saturday, May 20, 2017
Travel Diaries from Madagascar
The north of Madagascar presents wilderness areas that overlook a stunning coastline surrounded by coral islands. The trip explores the most beautiful parts as we start from Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, for the Ankarafantsika National Park, where you can admire the unique spiny forest, along a tree, which is found only in this country with the beautiful baobabs.
Continuing north you can see the cocoa plantations, spices and essential oils and arrive at Ankarana Park, which impresses the peculiar rock blades, fossil remnant of an ancient coral reef, and then in the lush rainforest of the Mountains Park Amber. A set that leads us to learn about flora and fauna of amazing variety with several endemic species of plants ebony, rosewood, huge ferns, lemurs, turtles, chameleons, crocodiles and a wide variety of birds.
Once on the northern coast in the pretty colonial town of Antsiranana you can explore coral bays along the coast, a sea area with archetypal beauty with white beaches and emerald waters where swimming is fantastic. In the southwest to the island of Nosy Be you can relax or dedicate yourself to marine activities or even continue with the exploration of the archipelago. Then fly from here to Antananarivo for the return.
The large island of Madagascar has a very different nature, also protected thanks to the many National parks distributed throughout the territory, characterized by different climatic areas with a number of endemic plant and animal species, including the cute lemurs that have become the symbol of this land. The coasts in many areas are adorned with large white beaches lapped by coral seas, still exploited only partially from tourism.
Here live here as many as 18 different ethnic groups of both African and Asian origin, who lived in the regions have shaped the environment in very different ways with terraced fields for rice cultivation areas of pasture, and, especially in the north, cane plantations sugar and spices. The nature of the people is deeply relaxed and peaceful, far from the potential aggressiveness of many areas of Africa, and the traveler does not meet with tense situations. This set makes Madagascar absolutely magical, a destination with unique characteristics.
Upon arrival in Antananarivo, we move to the city and stay at a hotel.
Day 2 - Antananarivo - Ankarafantsika
We start heading north along the RN 4, a good road that connects the capital to Mahajanga, to the Ankarafantsika National Park, located in the territory of Sakalava, one of the most common malagasy ethnic groups.
Day 3 - Ankarafantsika
In the morning, we go into the dense thorny forest, which is typical of the west coast of the country. In the afternoon the excursion on the lake allows us to observe the rare species of birds and crocodiles of various families. The park is home to valuable plants such as rosewood, ebony and baobab. There are plenty of lemurs and you can see chameleons, iguanas and with a little luck, the boa of Madagascar. At the entrance of the park is a breeding center of the ploughshare tortoise, an endemic endangered species found only in the northwest of the country.
Day 4 - Ankarafantsika - Antsohihy
We leave for the park early morning and continue north. We take the road RN 6. On the way we see cotton and tobacco plantations.
Day 5 - Antsohihy - Ambanja - Ambilobe (Ankarana) (350 km)
The journey continues north through increasingly numerous sugarcane plantations, ylang ylang, a plant used to make perfume essences, cocoa, vanilla and other spices. Near the town of Ambanja, we stop to visit the Millot Plantation. Continuing we enter the territory of Antakarana, which means those among the rocks, and here lives one of the smallest malagasy ethnic groups that inhabit the northern part of the country. In the evening we get to Ankarana National Park and stay overnight at a lodge.
Day 6 - Ambilobe (Ankarana)
We dedicate the day to visit the National Park, made famous by the massive karst rock of Tsingy passing through it that originates from an ancient era Jurassic reef, which stretches for 35 km from the west. The area is rich in canyons dominated by lush forests, underground rivers and caves decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, including the sacred cave of bats. After a short hike we get up to Tsingy Rary, where we have a wonderful view over a vast expanse of sharp rocks. In the park there inhabit some of the species of lemurs that are among the most beautiful of Madagascar.
Day 7 - Ambilobe - Ambohitra (Joffreville)
In the morning we start to visit the reserve of the Red Tsingy, also called fairy chimneys. These are amazing sandstone, marl and red laterite rock formations, located in a canyon carved by the river Irodo. The balance of these formations is very fragile, and heavy rains or a major flood can modify the shape quickly. Before arriving at the hotel we visit the sacred lake of Antagnavo, home to many crocodiles.
Day 8 - Ambohitra - Antsiranana (Diego Suarez)
In the morning we visit the Amber Mountain National Park, located in the middle of a volcanic area. Created in 1958, it is considered a real biological treasure. The tropical forest is not yet affected by human activity and is one of the most beautiful of Madagascar and holds an extremely varied vegetation with over a thousand different species, with multiple orchids to ferns and large bird's nest.
We walk through small lakes and waterfalls, including the sacred Antomboka, where we you see many chameleons and some lemurs, including the small and particular aye-aye. Leaving the park we pass the village of Ambohitra and continue to Antisaranna (Diego Suarez).
Day 9 - Antsiranana
Antsisarana or Diego Suarez is situated on a large bay that is from a landscape point of view one of the most beautiful cities of Madagascar. The architecture of the buildings and streets testifies to the colonial past, and it was here that between 1500 and 1506 landed the first two European Portuguese origin, to which it owe the name of the city. Today we visit the three bays near the town, the bay of Sakalava, the bay of the pigeons and the Bay of the dunes.
Its a very undeveloped area and you can enjoy the beauty of these beautiful bays walking along the white sandy beaches. Next we come to the Cap Mine where there is a lighthouse with guns inherited from colonial times, a great spot to enjoy the view of Diego Suarez bay with the Pain de Sucre, an island landmark. We finally reach the nearby village of Ramena fishermen, overlooking a beautiful long beach where the sea is protected by the reef.
Day 10 - Antsiranana
Today we dedicate to swimming and the discovery of the Emerald Sea. In the early morning we reach the port where we embark to reach the nearby lagoon of the Emerald Sea, a natural aquarium whose calm and shallow crystal clear waters are home to a wide variety of fish. The lunch and equipment for swimming with flippers were included in the excursion.
Day 11 - Antsiranana - Ankify
We return following the road south until Ambanja from where we reach the village of Ankify, situated on the coast opposite the island of Nosy Be. The village is in a region crossed by the river Sambirano, characterized by lush vegetation and mangrove forests.
Day 12 - Ankify - Nosy Be
In the morning we moved to the port and ferries on the island of Nosy Be.
Day 13 - Nosy Be
Nosy Be is the largest of the islands of Madagascar, lapped by crystal clear seas and well equipped for visitors. You can organize different activities among which in particular indicate the excursion to the island of Nosy Iranja, a small jewel connected to the island adjacent to a long strip of white sand. Here you can also stay overnight in basic but romantic huts. The swimmers with flippers and scuba divirs can go to Skate, a National Marine Park, where the lucky ones will be able to admire the sea turtle.
Day 14 - Nosy Be - Antananarivo
In the afternoon we fly to Antananarivo.
We leave for the Airport.
Madagascar includes many climatic zones. In the highlands, the austral winter begins from June to September. The daytime temperatures are mild with lowest night temperatures at 9/10 degrees and low rainfall. On the northwest coast, the climate is tropical with little rain and pleasant temperatures (between 18 and 29 degrees). On the northern tip, close to Antsiranana, the weather is dry and windy, with average temperatures around 27-30 degrees.
Madagascar's streets, although paved, are not in good condition and that in several areas in the highland areas slows down the transfer time. Hotels are of good quality, or at least the best available. There is French influence in the cuisine here, which is quite varied and adapted for the visitors. It is normal to find food items such as baguettes and also good wine.